Handel’s English pastoral masque Acis and Galatea was commissioned by James Brydges, Earl of Carnavon and later Duke of Chandos, and had it first performance sometime between 1718-20 at Cannons, the stately home on the grand Middlesex estate where Brydges maintained a group of musicians for his chapel and private entertainments.
Walk for 10 minutes or so due north of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and you come to Brunswick Square, home to the Foundling Museum which was established in 1739 by the philanthropist Thomas Coram to care for children lost but lucky.
“Trust me, I’m telling you stories …”
It is hard to imagine a more animated, engaging, and musically accomplished night at the Academy of Music than with Opera Philadelphia’s winning new staging of The Love for Three Oranges.
She makes a virtue of her deceit, her own accusers come to her defence, and her crime brings her reward. Agrippina – great-granddaughter of Augustus Caesar, sister of Caligula, wife of Emperor Claudius – might seem to offer those present-day politicians hungry for power an object lesson in how to satisfy their ambition.
San Francisco Opera’s Billy Budd confirms once again that Britten’s reworking of Melville’s novella is among the great masterpieces of the repertory. It boasted an exemplary cast in an exemplary production, and enlightened conducting.
From Albion, The Song of Love featuring songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with Kitty Whately, Roderick Williams and pianist William Vann. Albion is unique, treasured by Vaughan Williams devotees for rarely heard repertoire from the composer’s vast output, so don’t expect mass market commercial product. Albion recordings often highlight new perspectives.
“To remove the misery of slave motherhood and the curse of unwanted children, and to secure that every baby is loved before it is born.”
‘By the year 2006, half the performances of the piano music of Haydn, Mozart and the early Beethoven will be played on replicas of 18th-century instruments. Then I’d give it another 20 or 30 years for the invasion of period instruments to have taken over late Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Schumann as well. If that prediction seems far out to you, consider how improbable it seemed in 1946 that by the mid-’70s Bach on the harpsichord would have developed from exoticism to norm.’
I don’t know what the rest of Operadom is doing to cast Baroque opera at the moment, for the world’s most superlative Handel specialists all seem to have converged on Opera Philadelphia’s stylish Semele.